California pot growers split over marijuana legalization

October 4, 2016

legalize-marijuana-california-environmentDue to concerns over potential competition and burdensome regulation, many California marijuana growers plan to vote against the November ballot measure on pot legalization. The initiative is still expected to pass. [Reuters]

The California Growers Association trade group took a neutral stance on Proposition 64, which would legalize marijuana for recreational usage. In a poll of its 750 growers, 31 percent of the farmers supported Prop. 64, 31 percent opposed it and 38 percent were undecided.

Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, said he has long looked forward to the day when he and thousands of pot farmers would no longer be outlaws. However, Allen said he cannot vote for Prop. 64, arguing it would result in an economic injustice.

Some pot farmers fear Prop. 64 will result in them being wiped out by competition from big business. Under the ballot measure, industrial-sized farms would be allowed after a five-year grace period.

If Prop. 64 passes, some growers may decide it is more lucrative to sell to states where marijuana remains illegal. That would drive them further underground.

Steve Dodge, the CEO of trade group Humboldt Growers Collective, said he is voting against the measure because it would allow regulatory inspections that some growers view as equivalent to warrantless searches. Growers are also concerned about the tax bills they will face, as well as expenses related to compliance with environmental regulations.

Stephen Dillon, the head of the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild, said it could cost growers $20,000 to $100,000 per farm to comply with environmental regulations. Dillon acknowledged, though, that the regulations would allow the state to revoke the licenses of growers who harm the environment by draining creeks for irrigation, dumping pesticide-laden runoff in the water supply or creating mountains of trash at their sites.

The Sun Growers Guild is split over Prop. 64. Its operations manager, small farmer Chrystal Ortiz, said she supports the initiative because it would eliminate or reduce most criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, which would primarily help “black and brown underprivileged people.”


This seems to have a similarity to what happened with the sugar industry in Hawaii when statehood came around. Many in the sugar industry did not want Hawaii to become a US state, it meant having to do business in a whole new way. It meant having to do things the US way, with regulations, salary standards, tax standards, many more watching, and everyone one of these new people taking a little. What happened, the sugar industry eventually collapsed in Hawaii. The industry went to places where fewer people had their hands out for a slice of the pie. It may be those in the current marijuana growing industry are worried that if it becomes legal, it also comes with more oversight, more people watching and less $$ in their pocket to address all these new regulations. They too may be afraid the industry will go other places, where the government eye can not watch.


I’m concerned that legalizing marijuana for recreational use RIGHT NOW will result in a higher water usage during our DROUGHT for marijuana grows.


Do grapes growing as far as the eye can see worry you?


I love how they try to play the sympathy card of a small grower. Yes if this was farming but NO. As is right now they can skirt much of profit as a big cash business.

Second the ones that really pay are you and me!!! By keeping illegal they get to make big profits, while we pay for extra law enforcement and courts to prosecute. The tax saving to US will be big if legalized. So boo hoo Mr. grower, get legal or get out.


Well stated. I recently spent some time living in Humboldt County. The black-market economy is so strong there, that the influential power of often violent and drug addled growers runs through most local businesses, city officials, county officials, police and sheriffs. Even the feds are probably in on it in some fashion. None of them want legalization, for obvious reasons. Legalization means the end of their illicit gravy train. Prop 64 may not be perfect, but it’s time to put this corrupt underground industry to bed.


Under prop 64, a teenager with over an oz of cannabis is automatically a felon and goes to prison… A cancer patient who has over 3-5 grams of oil or over an oz of cannabis, same thing, now a fellon and goes to prison… Do some actual research this is a “voter initiative” created and backed by big pharma (monsanto) to keep hemp laws in control of same people who own them now… This is not legalization this is regulated prohibition, which keep the prisons full and hemp laws in control of same people making billions of dollars Taking oil outta the planet to run your cars. Dont be fooled!


This is the same reasoning used by illegal drug dealers and smugglers in the early 70s when Prop 19 was put to vote. Pure profit motivation with no regard for their clientele.


Like all illegal drugs, or guns, or even back during prohibition, the criminals make much more money when something is banned. High sin taxes have also resulted in a huge black market. When cigarettes are 5 bucks a pack in Oregon and 10 in Washington, how many mini-vans do you think make that trip every day? A very lucrative part time job opportunity for someone.


I guess you can only laugh at the absurdity of this all. This whole issue boils down to who will be making the money out of it!

So my vote will be do I vote for the underground economy, or the Wall Street economy?

Is there a third option?

Jorge Estrada

Thirdly, any option works if drug testing is required before eligibility can be established for any social program. “I don’t want to work or I don’t do well when given orders,” should not be accepted as eligible for Social Security benefits as it currently IS. Sure it is twisted into some mental condition but the prize is $1000 per month of Social Security dollars. I for one, want Social Security to be there for the working people who funded it. Sure some people can smoke pot, go to work and raise a healthy family and some people win big money at LOTTO, Vegas, etc. Keeping it illegal is what keeps things in check. Rather than the expense of incarceration, I would support seizing assets to fund our public works. This would be a win-win, beautiful safer freeways with sparse traffic that is only going 35 mph.


Sorry, your comment is just dumb through and through. LOL, $1000/mo Social Security prize. Ever try to live on $1000/mo? You could earn more panhandling, or maybe growing pot…


Of course many large-scale growers hate Prop. 64: it will cut deeply into their profits. They will no longer be able to charge $300/oz from something that grows relatively effortlessly at a cost of about $5/oz. Once a significant number of people have backyard grows the price of cannabis will crash. Our county leaders with dollar signs in their eyes will be awfully disappointed. So, you know how 50% of everyone knocking on your door is trying to get you to put solar panels on your roof? The knocks on your door will soon be from people wanting to rent a 10’x10′ plot in your backyard from you.


Illegal marijuana growers don’t want legalization because they would have to follow environmental laws already on the books and enforced for legal agriculture?